Doulas and natural birth are a great combination, kind of like peanut butter and chocolate. But what if you can’t afford a doula? Or maybe you or your partner are uncomfortable with idea of having a stranger present at the birth. Don’t despair — you can still have a natural birth! In my 6 births (1 epidural, 5 natural), I’ve never hired a doula. (Update: With baby #7, I hired a doula and loved the experience. But everything that follows about doing it without one is just as valid.)
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So, if you’re planning a natural birth without a doula, here’s what you need to know:
Natural Birth Without a Doula: Take a Childbirth Class
Childbirth is unpredictable, and doulas help couples navigate the unknown. “Am I in labor?” and “When should we leave for the hospital?” are questions you’re going to have to answer for yourself. A high-quality natural childbirth class will familiarize you with the ins and outs of birth. Plan to learn all about the stages of labor, common medical interventions, and coping tools. In addition, you’ll establish a relationship with a childbirth educator and other classmates that can help you answer questions that arise during pregnancy.
In studies comparing women who attended childbirth classes and those who did not, class participation was associated with (1):
- A reduced pain experience
- Reduced use of medicine during childbirth
- Less use of forceps
- More positive attitudes about the labor experience
Natural Birth Without a Doula: Prepared Partner
If you’re going to attempt a natural birth without a doula, be sure to bring along a well-prepared partner. I can NOT imagine having had a natural birth without other supportive people in the room to help me, especially my husband.
Evidence has shown that when mom has continuous support during labor, she is less likely to ask for pain medication and more likely to be satisfied with her birth experience. She’s also less likely to have a c-section, need the use of forceps, or need regional analgesia (2). It’s clear that labor support is a must.
With that said, if your husband or partner is going to take the place of a doula, he must be well-prepared. Take your childbirth class together. Study books like The Birth Partner. Practice positions, breathing techniques, and coping tools together. Studies have found that support persons who have training and experience in providing labor support are most beneficial to mom (2). With that in mind, you and your partner must accept the need to prepare and train together for your upcoming birth.
Natural Birth Without a Doula: Consider a Birth Center
A doula is often helpful to answer questions about medical interventions, pain management options, and hospital procedures. In a natural birth without a doula, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with your healthcare options.
A birth center can provide a more simplistic approach to natural birth because the facility offers fewer options overall. Routine interventions such as episiotomies, IV fluid, and continuous electronic fetal monitoring are not a part of the typical birth center fare. Most don’t offer narcotic pain medications, and none provide epidurals.
Another benefit of a birth center when you are having a natural birth without a doula is that the staff tend to be more involved with the labor process than in a hospital. You can typically expect near constant support and encouragement from the midwives and nurses as you cope with labor.
Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for natural childbirth in the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class to learn more about preparing for natural childbirth.
- Cogan, R. (1980). Effects of childbirth preparation. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 23, 1.
- Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5.
- Baby and Company. FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.babyandcompany.com/faqs/